The Federal Government can use national emergency powers with impunity, according to a legal academic, in regards to the launch of their advertising campaign explaining the proposed mining super profits tax.
Bryan Pape, a senior lecturer from the School of Law at the University of New England, told Lawyers Weekly today (1 June) that he was "horrified" the Government was allowed to breach guidelines it had previously set relating to the conduct of government advertising in launching its own advertising campaign over the weekend.
But according to Pape, there is little the general public can do. "The ordinary citizen has no basis to challenge what the government is doing, and so it can do what it likes," he said.
The Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary, Joe Ludwig, said exemptions to the advertising guidelines could be granted "on the basis of a national emergency, extreme urgency or other compelling reason".
The guidelines require advertising campaigns that cost more than $250,000 to be vetted by an independent panel.
The Government previously bypassed the guidelines to publicise the swine flu outbreak in June last year.
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, wrote to Senator Ludwig seeking an exemption from the guidelines on 10 May. The Treasurer defended the Government's actions as a response to "a lot of misinformation being pushed by some parts of the mining industry."
"The Australian people have a big stake in getting a fair share of our resource wealth and we make no apology for keeping them informed," he said,